Covid-19 And PEA Teachers; A Bad Mix

Afu Stephens is a trade unionist and president of PEATTU

Dear colleagues, comrades, We acknowledge that while Covid 19 poses a great threat, it’s consequences are heavy. It has meant loosing jobs and income for many, for others like Teachers whom we are, it means dangerous teaching and working conditions. Let us already begin to reason out ways to make sure that our world of work emerge better after the crises.

The Covid 19 has no doubt exposed some fundamental inequalities that dominate our lives with individualism reactivated. For us workers of the PEA (Presbyterian Education Authority), the situation is tragic as opposed to Pastors whose work life balance has become a LUXURY. In the church system as a whole, the Education sector has exposed the inequalities and has shown us as the most vulnerable .
Teachers, this far as Educators have been working tirelessly to overcome the difficulties, despite not receiving any support from hierarchy, even when Christians willingly donate to ease our plight.

As a Union, we have held several meetings to come up with solutions, which we have proposed to church hierarchy.
Regrettably, that in the face of these as a Union, we have not been consulted, just as we have seen church hierarchy unilaterally and arbitrarily abrogating existing Collective Agreement, better still (Protocol Agreement) and have gone ahead to reduce wages and other benefits in violation of labour laws.

Whatever the case, agreed, distance learning and e-Learning cannot replace school communities. As the situation will normalise and stabilize (hopefully) and schools begin to reopen, we must give priority to ourselves. We must work to support ourselves as Workers of the PEA, respecting and seizing our Professional autonomy.

We note that while we recognize austerity measures in normal times is good, we have realised and are noting that they are appalling and devastating, inhuman and scandalous during crises, especially, when is is discriminatory and selective.

Therefore,as Workers of the PEA, We must stand firm to our dignity, stand firm for democracy, solidarity and other values that represent us. Many Authoritarians like our church hierarchy have and will continue to use this Covid 19 crises to strengthen their grip on power.

We must remain alert, vigilant, watchful and in solidarity, so that our human labour rights don’t fall prey to any fear and manipulation. In the face of this, as We have always articulated before, We must imagine and look up to the future we want and work together to achieve it. It will require mobilisation, yes, mobilisation, Education, conscientization, organization and courage.

We can count on our enormous support and courage. We can count on the enormous support of our parents ,and government who recognize our services which now is painfully apparent and glaring to all.

Now is the time for us in SOLIDARITY to stand as one and take our responsibilities and for once enshrine SOCIAL JUSTICE in our Institutions.

Shalom. God bless you.

By Afu Stephens

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